Staying optimistic can help you deal with many types of challenges at work. Here are some ways to maintain a positive attitude on the job.
Remember that you can stay optimistic even if you aren’t happy about a situation. You may wish you didn’t have some challenges, such as a long commute, a difficult client, or a heavy workload, but you can still have a positive attitude when dealing with these challenges. Make your commute an enjoyable experience by listening to an audio book or your favorite music, or think of a new skill you are developing as a result of your work.
Focus on what you can control. Avoid dwelling on situations you can’t change. Instead, focus on doing your best on everything you can control, such as getting to work on time and organizing your tasks so that you can complete them in the most efficient way.
Do something every day that makes you feel good at work. Have lunch with your favorite co-worker. Take a short walk on a beautiful day. Or listen to upbeat music on your mp3 player or smartphone for a few minutes on your break.
“Talk back” to yourself. Create and write down substitutions for any negative ideas that may affect your ability to do your job. If you sometimes think, “I’ll never be able to finish that project,” try, “I’ll break it down into manageable pieces.” If you think, “I don’t know how to do that,” try, “I have an opportunity to learn something new.”
Use “thought-stopping” techniques. Learn a few easy ways to interrupt negative thoughts that may arise at work and elsewhere. Psychologist Martin Seligman suggests in his book Learned Optimism that you carry a 3 x 5 card with “STOP” written on it in red and look at it when you find yourself focusing on unpleasant things. You might keep this card in a drawer at your desk or workstation.
Spend time with co-workers who have an optimistic attitude and tend to be in a good mood. Make an effort to cultivate friendships with these people, and their positive energy will be contagious.
Maintain good-health routines. You’ll find it easier to stay optimistic if you feel good physically and mentally. Try to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night, get 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week, and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning and a healthy lunch at work every day.
Give yourself credit. After tough days, take time to think about the things you did well, such as staying calm and polite when you had to deal with a difficult customer.